Big White Kahuna
Watching Mike McCoy’s press conference Monday made me more irritable than watching the Chargers lose another close game against the Miami Dolphins. It was more irritating than watching the anarchy after the presidential election. So for all you protesters of firing McCoy…..
You now have my vote.
Every question during said press conference, seemed to be answered with the preface, “Like I’ve been telling you from day 1…” Yes Mike, you have said the same thing over and over again since the beginning and look where your team is at?
Clearly he does not listen to himself nor reviews his press conferences afterwards. The reason I know he doesn’t?? Nothing seems to change.
I have been giving McCoy a very long leash up until now. I like the man and felt that he was handed a bad product; a product that is always injured and broken – like a Christmas toy that your dad has to become MacGyver in order to get it to work again.
And I still feel this way….to a point. In Sundays loss to Miami, the Dolphins exploited the rookies and sophomores. They knew what we had and punished us for it. Philip Rivers had an awful day, one that I am sure he would agree with. From the onset of the game, there was no continuity between him and his receivers – even with Antonio Gates.
The makeshift defense has done as well if not better than expected. With all the injuries in the defensive backfield, the secondary is playing well due to the dominance upfront with the likes of Brandon Mebane, Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa and Jatavis Brown. Although last week, with not as much quarterback pressure and always worried about the run game, the weak secondary was peppered with blown coverages and missed tackles. Furthermore, their performance, for the most part, in the second half has been nothing shy of depressing. What happens in the locker room at halftime? Isn’t part of the job of John Pagano and McCoy to inspire and motivate the players to continue their supremacy?
Let’s get back to the press conference.
One of the head coach’s remarks was about how the mistakes prior to the 4th quarter is just as big and bothersome as the mistakes made in the last 15 minutes of play. Question after question was brought up about the late let down and Mike continued deflecting those questions and making excuses for bad play earlier in the game.
Hey Mike? Let’s agree to disagree.
Sure there are spots during a game where San Diego has missed opportunities to take a commanding lead, or at least be the cog and shut down any momentum created by the opposition. However, since Mike has been wearing the Charger visor, the team has been awful in close games (8 points or fewer) with or without the lead heading into the final frame. Take a look at these numbers:
Since the 2013 season and through last week’s game, the Bolts are 15-23 in games decided by 8 points or less. For you statisticians, that equals a 39.47 winning percentage.
Now of those 38 games, San Diego was leading at the end of the 3rd quarter 15 times (7-8 record) and behind 20 times (6-14 record). I understand those numbers don’t add up for all you following at home. So let me add that three out of those 38 games they were tied (2-1 record) heading into the 4th quarter.
Closing out games, in my humble opinion, is just as important as controlling the game in the early onset. In fact I will go out on a limb and say that the last quarter is the most crucial. Every team makes mistakes; blown coverages, missed throws, turnovers…etc. Those are bound to happen. In fact, the likelihood of any NFL team playing a “perfect” game is as minuscule as the chances of me dating model Ashley Alexxis.
The simple fact is that not many times is an NFL team going to be blowing out their opponent every week; hence why it is vital to be able to have that “closer” mentality.
Speaking of dominant closers, perhaps Coach McCoy needs to watch San Diego Padres game where Trevor Hoffman comes in and shuts down the opponents. Trevor, one of the best closers in all of baseball, was so dominate and fearless when he came out to “Hells Bells,” that even when he got older, hitters were still in fear of facing him. But that is what a closer is supposed to do. The team battles all game to lead late in the game, and the closer shuts it down.
It would be fantastic if McCoy would stop repeating himself about what he has “…been telling us from day 1.” We know this team has not been able to put the clamps on the opposition in the final quarter. My question, if I were allowed in the press room, would be this:
What are you going to do about it Coach?
Because clearly McCoy is either so obtuse that he is not aware of this lack of productivity in the final moments of the game, or he has tried for three and a half seasons and nothing has worked. The last time I checked, the Chargers play in the National Football League; professional football teams take the field every game. Is there any one team that if they are behind heading into the last quarter, just plain gives up? These players are playing for a starting position, a bigger contract, a long-term contract…etc.
Whether it is holding onto a lead, or trying to dig out of a hole, the simple fact is that this Chargers team, since McCoy took over, CAN NOT CLOSE OUT GAMES.
Sure, the coaches do not take the field – the players have to execute. However whose job is it to make the right play calling? Whose job is it to encourage and be positive around the players to ensure they will continue to fight for the whole 60 minutes? Whose job is it to make sure the players are in the right position to execute?
To have your play calling questioned after so many games is getting tiresome. Perhaps it is time to admit that McCoy just does not have what it takes to close out games. If he did, if he had the aggressive confidence the team needs, San Diego’s record would be more around 9-1 or 8-2, rather than a pathetic 4-6.
I know most of you anti-McCoy constituents have been feeling this way for a while now. I am big enough to eat crow and admit that this just isn’t the massive injuries, or the lack of execution causing the team to fail. There needs to be a change, otherwise this team will not change.
One possible solution: Bring Hoffman in to coach in the fourth quarter of every game. He can even wear a visor backwards if he wants.
Thanks for reading
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
The fall season is upon us and many around the globe are rejoicing in the change of the season. For those who aspire for change, one needs to just breathe in the autumn air – breathe in fresh hope. Opportunities are no longer looked at as futile, they are viewed as worthy of accomplishment and realistically within reach.
For sports fans, this season brings us baseball playoffs, the beginning of basketball and hockey while placing us right in the middle of the NFL football schedule.
For those lovers of horror, fall also brings Halloween; a tradition steeped in scary music and movies.
Being a horror enthusiast myself, I have spent all October basking in new and old horror movies; entranced in the scare and the music that enhances each killer moment. All over the internet, anyone can find a website or blog with the writer’s favorite horror movies. In my opinion, the scariest thing I have seen this October?
The San Diego Chargers offense in Sunday’s loss in Denver.
How many times, in cheeky horror movies, do we see opportunity after opportunity for the potential victim to escape the psychotic killer, only to stay in and lock the doors and hide in a closet. When this occurs, the viewer usually screams “RUN YOU IDIOT!! RUN!!”
Were there any Charger fans yelling that at the television late in the game Sunday??
Avid horror viewers constantly see chances the victim has in escaping the evil assassin. Week 8’s loss in Denver, there were numerous chances for the Chargers to escape yet, just like the “dumb blonde” in the movies, they failed miserably.
A running into the kicker penalty, a dropped potential pick-six, first and goal on the Broncos two yard line, defense creating countless three-and-outs; all major opportunities to escape and turn around the plot – where the prey becomes the slayer.
Regarding the play-calling or the lack of execution, when it comes to making critical decisions in a state of panic, can we really sit back in our comfy chairs and criticize? How many of us have been stalked by the likes of Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees? Furthermore, how many of us have coached in the NFL?
Like myself, most of us would say that without a doubt, we would run as far away as possible and never return to our home if the creepy knife carrying murderer would not leave. In addition, most Charger fans would have elected to run the ball with time running out and an opportunity to score from two yards out – yet in an intense game full of emotion, can we really say we would make the right choice?
In my opinion, Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt suspected that a tough Denver defense was looking for Melvin Gordon to run. Gordon had been piling up yards and has already shown to have a nose for pay dirt – so running Melvin was obvious from everyone watching the game. With that line of thinking, what they did was counter with passes; one which if not overthrown, Antonio Gates would have had added another touchdown to his resume. Unfortunately, coaches are not able to possess hindsight and neither are the seemingly brainless victims in slasher films.
John Pagano and his defense handed the offense a chance to wreak havoc in Denver, time and time again Sunday. They allowed the door to remain impenetrable for the serial killer to get through – yet the stooge somehow continued to slip and fall. With an arsenal of talented weapons to escape Sports Authority Field with a victory, the Chargers fell even harder to the AFC West cellar.
So what happens now with the killer still out there and the injured victim who is lying on the floor of the cellar, seems to have lost all hope?
“Just get back to the lab. Just keep working….” – Melvin Ingram
Let’s hope the Chargers offense gets reanimated as they head towards the second half of the NFL season. At 3-5, San Diego desperately needs life to be pumped back into the staff and personnel if they want to cheat a certain death; a playoff-less season.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott .
There comes a time when repeated tragedies occur, that you throw up your hands and bellow out a sarcastic laugh or bow your head and give it a good hearty shake.
Week 3 is now in the books and so is the third Charger player to be out for the season due to an injury in as many weeks.
Misery certainly does love company.
After an MRI on Monday, it was officially announced that Manti Te’o is out for the season with a torn Achilles.
The “Next Man Up” mantra that has been utilized by the Chargers for the past few seasons might need to be changed to “Next Man Down.”
Despite the loss of the defensive captain, the Chargers (1-2) also lost another game where they had a chance to win in the end.
Circling around social media last night and Monday morning, there are many that have blamed Philip Rivers, Hunter Henry, Mike McCoy, Melvin Gordon or Josh Lambo for Sunday’s 26-22 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on the road.
Sorry, but I am not going to dignify a response for blaming a kicker whose job is to kick field goals and extra points – not to prevent a rusher from getting a chance to block a kick.
From the early onset of the game, the vibe and tone set by the team was extremely sluggish. The fire and passion that resonated through the first half of Week 1 against Kansas City and the entire Week 2 victory against Jacksonville seemed a distant memory.
Rivers was not the elite quarterback that fans have grown accustomed to watching, missing many targets with passes that were too high, too hard or simply off the mark. The fierce competitor that he is, after the game he admitted to the poor performance and execution of his game – even singling out his biggest mistake of the game. “Of all the plays I missed today, I wished I got the one to Travis (Benjamin) on 3rd-and-2 because we were running that thing down. We may end up with it in our hands at mid-field, and I just missed it…”
Indeed, it was one pass that if completed, the rest of his errant throws would have been forgotten. It was a crucial play that could have possibly secured the game, forcing Indianapolis to use their timeouts and dwindle the game clock down.
Chalk it up to a bad game for the offensive and team leader.
One player in particular took the loss solely on himself:
Gotta take this one on the Chin!!! I Loss the Game …..
— Jason Verrett (@Jfeeva_2) September 26, 2016
No, Jason, you alone did not lose this game. And might I add that your humility is a breath of fresh air and one of the reasons why you are a fan favorite.
It might be true that Jason Verrett was beat often against a very good wide receiver in T.Y. Hilton on Sunday. Equally important to note is that in no way shape or form is the loss all on his shoulders. Game after game the Pro Bowl cornerback has shut down the opposition’s best wideout. It was just a bad day for the talented corner – occurring on a day where others experienced lousy games, as well.
Moreover, it was not Feeva’s fault for being on the sidelines during a potential game-clinching 4th-and-7 play with less than two minutes left in the game. Brandon Flowers was covering Hilton and instead of playing him up close, Flowers gave T.Y. a four-yard cushion where he made the easy, wide-open catch at the first down marker, falling forward to ensure the call was a simple one. Flowers has been playing exceptionally better this year than last, and was one of three players that I mentioned on this site to have a great impact this season. It is unfortunate that this crucial play has his named associated with it.
Melvin Gordon was held in check by Indianapolis, who came into the game ranked as the worst rushing defense in the NFL. Clearly, the Colts knew about this dubious honor of theirs and studied a lot of film on the second-year starter. It was clear to them that “Flash” loves to run in between the tackles and does not improvise as much as an elite back would. Perhaps it is his style, or perhaps it’s his youth that explains why he runs the way the play is designed to, without recognizing other outlets.
Gordon did, however, hit pay dirt again for the fourth time in three games and continues to punish those would-be tacklers. The Chargers fans are very excited about his play thus far. His ability to get into the endzone, his potential, especially if he learns from his mistakes, and how high his ceiling is reinforce the fact that the excitement is justified.
The second-round draft pick of 2016, tight end Hunter Henry, received the starting nod to take the place of the future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates. Hunter had five catches for 76 yards and looked like he could be the heir apparent of Gates as he levied space between him and the defender, moving the chains on several occasions. Although, it is hard to remember those precise routes and great hands due to his late game fumble that ended any last-ditch efforts for a comeback.
Yes, the Bolts still had a chance to win the game. Yes, the fumble ended that hope. However, it should not have come down to that one play, nor is it the dubious “play that lost the game.” Hunter is a talented rookie and as you could see his reaction on the sidelines he was devastated.
As upsetting as it was to watch the game slip away, my heart went out to him and I wondered what encouragement he would receive. Then I saw Gates call him over and give him a veteran pep talk.
By now, most fans who watched the game or have seen the highlights know about all the following miscues: dropped punt, missed catches, missed throws, fumbles…etc. Let us not take too much time dwelling on those players, because it was not one single player nor single mistake that helped in the loss on Sunday. It was the collective faux pas of many.
McCoy expounded on my thoughts when he stated after the game, “There are a number of plays you look at; missed opportunities through the entire game. It’s not just one drive or one series. There were a number of opportunities we had, where we didn’t make the plays today.”
To further McCoy’s point, it was not just those mistakes, which during a loss are enhanced and nit-picked, but it was also the penalties. Those yellow flags are thrown often during NFL games, legitimately or otherwise, and this game would see 20 of them – 10 for each team. It has been instilled in many young athletes that a physical mistake is easier to forgive than a mental mistake. Having your named called out by the men in pinstripes is a mental mistake, showing a lack of discipline more often than not. That being said, at least two of those “phantom calls” would cost the Chargers points in the end.
Several times those penalties either killed a drive or allowed the Colts to continue theirs. Whether the call is obtuse or astute, it is difficult to gather momentum when the game stops for a penalty.
When all’s said and done, with massive blunders and penalties, San Diego still had a chance to win the game. Even with the defense unable to stop the aging wonder who is Frank Gore, collectively they were able to sack Andrew Luck twice, forced two fumbles (recovering one), scored a touchdown and had an interception. Thus far after three games, the defense has logged six total turnovers — four interceptions and two fumbles.
In 2015, the Chargers secured only 11 interceptions and nine fumbles for the entire season. Furthermore, Rivers has yet to throw an interception, which has contributed to San Diego being at plus-2 in the turnover department, ranking 5th in the AFC.
It was, without a doubt – a sloppy game but one that San Diego should have and could have won. As stated previously, with the poor play at key moments by positional players, and the horrid and massive amount of penalties, the game was still within reach in the waning moments. However, in order to take this team to the next level, a game like this is one that the Chargers needed. A victory would have given then team confidence to win close games and perhaps string a few victories together to gather momentum. After all, the Bolts have not won back-to-back games since November of 2014.
Let that last sentence sink in for a bit.
The Chargers will return home to Qualcomm Stadium in Week 4 to face the New Orleans Saints. This game will provide the Bolts a prime opportunity to get back on track, possibly evening out their record to 2-2 against a Saints’ team that struggles defensively.
Here is to hoping that the Chargers do NOT lose another key element to their roster for the fourth consecutive regular season week in a row.
Please comment below on what miscue, by players or non-players, was the main contributor to the loss in Indy.
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
During this past Sunday’s game against Jacksonville, a recurring epidemic reared its ugly head. No, I am not referring to Danny Woodhead’s injury, whom is now officially, like Keenan Allen, lost for the season. Nor was I referring to Jahleel Addae’s collarbone injury.
I am alluding to the fact that San Diego had another 21-point lead against their opponent.
Football followers and diehard Chargers fans should not have to hold their breath when their team holds that big of lead. As it were, and with a very recent history of an epic collapse in Week 1, the football Gods will have to accept the Bolt faithful for not being as blissful as they should have been.
Near the end of the first half in Sunday’s 38-14 victory over the Jaguars, a distasteful nostalgia filled my lungs. Fear flushed my pale demeanor as I sensed the shoe might again fall off the other foot. Proof was needed for many to believe that the Chargers were not going to fall complacent again, and with the clock running out, and generic play calls being made on offense, doubt crept into my nightmare like Freddie Krueger.
Watching Coach Mike McCoy and the team come galloping out of the tunnel to begin the second half, confidence swooned and I no longer believed in Freddie; thus killing him and the pessimism inside me.
After Melvin Gordon’s name was not called in the second half of last week’s loss to the Chiefs, this time around, his bruising style was not letting the Jags defense rest for a moment. Gordon continued to find openings, fight for those extra yards and punish those would-be tacklers, bouncing off of them like a pinball wizard.
The incredible ebb and flow of the game was as serene as watching the sunset from the La Jolla Cove, falling gracefully on the ocean’s skin; radiating hope for all those who are lost. The offense was masterfully unapologetic as Ken Whisenhunt commanded the troops, picking up big yards and scoring at will. John Pagano’s defense pillaged and tormented the Jaguars offense, forcing three turnovers and impeding any type of momentum Jacksonville had.
It was as if they actually learned from their mistakes in Week 1.
There was no three-man rush with a four-touchdown lead late in the third quarter. There was no conservative three-and-outs from the offense. This orchestrated masterpiece was to Charger fans as the classical music enthusiasts gets while listening to Frederic Chopin; the easement of the strings floating in an organized chaos – followed by a force of controlled havoc.
All the while McCoy, the maestro, led this band of eccentric players in perfect unison.
There were too many impact players of this game to list them all. As a well-trained orchestra knows, every instrument is vital to it success of the orchestra as a whole. There was the haunting presence of Melvin Ingram and Casey Hayward. The elegant Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams played their roles to perfection, but they would not have been so exemplified if it were not for the rhythmical beating from the ground game.
This is what San Diego has been needing. To destroy and show no mercy while playing this passionately for a full 60 minutes. Every player mattered and contributed to the melodious sound of victory.
During the week leading up to Sunday’s showdown, players admitted to losing focus when Keenan went down against Kansas City. When Danny was being carted off the field this past Sunday, an eerie hush covered the White Out in San Diego.
Yet, lessons were learned, and the band marched on.
Let us hope that the perfect pitch of this harmonious triumph against the Jaguars, continues on its symphony of destruction tour.
Next stop: Indianapolis
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
One of the toughest things to learn in life is how to avoid committing mistakes; a futile desire to say the least. Unless you are born with the unique power of advanced hindsight, the best way to learn is actually from the mistakes we make. An action is done, we see the negative result, and we work very hard to never repeat it.
One would think that an NFL head coach would be privy to this bit of knowledge.
In Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it tells the story regarding the inner battle of good versus evil, where the “good” Dr. Jekyll wants to abolish the “evil” Mr. Hyde. However, having that balance and knowing when to showcase them is as important as the recognition that both exist.
For two-and-a-half quarters in Sunday’s 33-27 loss in Kansas City, the San Diego Chargers looked unstoppable. Mr. Hyde’s dominating character was full of violent vigor at the onset of the game, showing no mercy upon it’s prey.
Second-year running back Melvin Gordon was able to get the monkey off his back, twice, and visions of a well-balanced offense of yesteryear flashed into the eager minds of Bolts fans everywhere. The defense provided a mixing of schemes so well versed and executed that Alex Smith seemed like he was leading the South Central Louisiana University Mud Dogs, begging for a water break. The Chiefs’ players and coaching staff seemed dazed and confused by the dominating phenomenon happening on their field. They, perhaps, were not aware or prepared to witness Mr. Hyde coming to fruition.
Certainly, Mike McCoy and staff knew what to do with a good-sized lead right? In the case that they wanted to ignore what has occurred in the past, all John Pagano had to do was remind McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt about one game against Denver in 2012 — when they had a 24-0 lead at halftime, only to lose 35-24.
“Disregard for the past will never do us any good. Without it we cannot know truly who we are.” – Syd Moore
The beginning of the fourth quarter, the passive Dr. Jekyll put on the headphones and looked frightened calling the plays from the sideline. His influence captivated the players as well, leading to execution on the field that seemed timid and shy.
The defensive coordinator of the infamous Denver game of 2012, the same coordinator that was on the field Sunday, appeared to learn nothing from his mistakes, as he continued to settle with calling a three-man pass rush. Then there was the running game of the offense, or the lack thereof, where fans were forced to play the childhood game of “Where’s Gordon?” The intuitive and creative calls for the offense seemed to be non-existent. The Chiefs’ defense swarmed the ball so quickly it was as if they were inside the huddle with Philip Rivers.
Speaking of our great quarterback, can or should Rivers trump the calls coming in from the sideline? He knows what has failed the Chargers over the years and he could have seen and felt the end result coming. Couldn’t he have ignored the passivity and used his fire and passion to bring back Mr. Hyde to the offense?
Instead of going for the jugular and keeping the commanding momentum, McCoy and company returned to the same shtick; stagnant, conservative and predictable play-calling. They appeared to be so afraid to lose; especially with that big of a lead. The facial expressions from the head coach showed a sign of weakness, a sign of defeat even with a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter. Yet, in the post game interview, McCoy stated that, “I don’t think our mindset changed. We came in and had a great halftime talk about what we were doing…”
You don’t think the mindset was changed? Where is the confidence?
Perhaps the fear of failing is too much for the coaching staff to deal with. I mean, after all, there has not been many positives when looking at a 13-19 record over the past two seasons. So, naturally, with a 21-point lead on the road against a division rival, his mindset was more of a “Please don’t blow this lead…please don’t blow this lead.” Not much success can happen if you are thinking and wishing about how not to fail, rather than how to finish off a win.
I have defended McCoy to the naysayers in the past. I felt he did not have the supporting coaching staff to make the team successful. Furthermore, with the coaching carousel, I felt having stability with the head coach was vital. After watching the lackluster second half, however, I believe that if the San Diego Chargers miss the postseason for a third straight season, a new head coach will don the blue and gold in 2017.
As frustrating and disappointing as the final score was, there is no need to panic so early in the season, nor is it time to fire a head coach at the very beginning of the season.
For those superstitious fans, just look back at McCoy’s first season in San Diego; you know, the last year the Bolts went to the playoffs. If you recall, the first game of that season was against Houston. The Chargers dominated the game and held at 21-7 lead at halftime, only to lose 31-28.
Perhaps history can repeat itself for the good.
Thanks for reading!
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
Watching Sunday’s epic downfall against the Kansas City Chiefs was not the only thing that was upsetting for the San Diego Chargers.
A dark ominous cloud hovered over the team and fans everywhere as they saw easily the best receiver on the team being carted off the field. Keenan Allen’s face was full of sorrow and disappointment, as he saw his season end before it began. After missing eight games in 2015, Keenan was set to have a breakout year. What he did on the field in Kansas City — six catches for 63 yards — was evidence that a monster year was indeed plausible.
On Monday, word from the Chargers camp was that they are looking to replace Keenan through free agency or from the practice squad.
Clearly, nobody can replace someone like Allen, but here are a few free agent veterans that San Diego might be placing a call to:
Rueben Randle – At 6-foot-2, Randle, 25, is without a home. He has the skills to be very successful in the NFL and has shown bouts of it during his time with the New York Giants. However, there are reports of many missed meetings and a lack of drive from the receiver. Rueben signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in late March of this year, but then was released August 28th due to a lackluster summer and preseason. The latest report was that he tried out for the New Orleans on September 6th. To date he is still unsigned.
Roddy White – A talented receiver with the Atlanta Falcons, the 6-foot White will turn 35 in November. Spending 11 seasons in Atlanta, he is currently the all-time leading receiver. He showed a bit of decline the last two seasons and admitted that he was frustrated with the smaller role in 2015. Roddy wants to play for a contender and seems content to retire if the right situation does not present itself.
Brian Hartline – The Chargers tried out Brian back in early August, however they choose to sign, then later cut, James Jones. Hartline will be 30 this November and at 6-foot-2 he possesses great hands. There were a few injuries — shoulder and collarbone — that impacted his season last year with the Cleveland Browns. However, this possession receiver can continue to help move the chains with a quarterback like Philip Rivers.
Nate Washington – The 33-year-old receiver played for Houston Texans, his third team, in 2015 and had a decent line of 48 catches for 661 yards and four touchdowns. At 6-foot-1, Nate was signed during the offseason with the New England Patriots but was later released. Reports were that he could not get on the same page as Tom Brady. He is still a valuable veteran who has been on two Super Bowl winning teams — both with Pittsburgh Steelers — and can stretch the field.
If San Diego elects to pass on any of these or any other skeptical free agents, there are two wide receivers — one on the practice squad — that could be put in the mix.
Dom Williams (PS) – The 6-foot-2 undrafted receiver out of Washington State, ran a 4.38 40-yard dash with a 40.5 inch vertical at his Pro Day. Williams was left off the invite list for the NFL combine due to the staggering number of drops he had in college. During minicamp, he made some great plays that made a small buzz around camp. At WAZU, he finished his collegiate career second in receiving yards and touchdowns for the Cougars. In watching highlights, Dom has great speed and separation, which is key for the quick-releasing Rivers.
Isaiah Burse – At 5-foot-10, Burse made the active roster due to his kick return ability, as well as an early season-ending injury to fellow wideout Stevie Johnson. Burse has the ability to play the slot and has been with San Diego since November of last year, so he is somewhat acclimated to the offense already.
Who do you think San Diego should sign/promote? Leave your answers below
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
For San Diego fans and NFL fans everywhere, this is the time of year where expectations are the highest. All teams went through a draft, have not lost a game and can possibly win their division – on their way to becoming the next Super Bowl Champion. The jaded fans grow into optimists about the players, coaches and organization.
Heading into the 2016 NFL season, every sports writer makes their attempt in finding that diamond in the rough; predicting which players will exceed everyone’s expectations. It is an easy task to take on, considering there is no accountability in the event those prophecies don’t pan out.
On the flip side, those players named in their write-up will become that writer’s metaphorical “baby.” Cheering on the named players as if they were the ones who drafted and molded them, hoping they turn into an 18-carat jewel and not a cubic zirconia. Some writers base their forecasts strictly on stats, and possibly going to the extreme with logarithms and equations that would make any math genius giddy with excitement. Others, like myself, use statistics sparingly, mixing in their gut-feeling about certain players.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
After the dreadful 2015 season, where the team from America’s finest city landed in the bottom of almost every offensive and defensive category, 2016 fills the lungs anew, smelling of sweet hopefulness and the taste of victory. With that, let us look at a few players whom this writer feels will surpass expectations.
Branden Oliver – The undrafted running back out of the University of Buffalo is playing in his third season with San Diego. After 191 rushing attempts and 49 receptions in two seasons, Oliver has yet to fumble the football.
After Ryan Mathews went down with another injury in 2014, Bo was able to showcase his talents and determination. Watching him closely his rookie season, I was amazed with this lower body strength and ability to fight for those extra yards.
Entering his second year in 2015, he was back down on the depth chart with the selection of first-round draft pick Melvin Gordon and the recovered Danny Woodhead.
Bo, entering his final season under his rookie contract, is a hard worker and might be playing with a chip on his shoulder. Oliver has latched on to Woodhead as his mentor and seems to have healed from last season’s turf toe injury that he sustained in Week 8, landing him on the injured reserved and ending his season.
With Gordon entering his second season after an insipid rookie campaign and Woodhead healthy, Oliver will more than likely begin again as the third back. As the third on any depth chart, expectations are slim. It is no secret that the run game will be targeted to emerge as a force, especially with Ken Whisenhunt once again calling the shots. In addition to his strong work ethic and ability to hold on to the ball, his quickness and power will allow Oliver to gain more snaps and targets this upcoming season.
Brandon Flowers – The 30-year-old cornerback enters his third season with the Chargers. A former Pro Bowler, Flowers initially signed a one-year contract with San Diego and played as well as expected, earning him a four-year contract at the end of the 2014 season. With a lucrative contract in the books, Brandon’s body language and his constant lack of effort was that similar to former Chargers’ linebacker Donald Butler, who signed a big contract only to show nothing on the field.
According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers ended the 2015 season being graded as the third-worst corner out of a possible 111 qualifiers. It might be too simple to pick Brandon as someone who will exceed expectations, because it would not seem possible to get any worse.
Not wanting to follow in Butler’s footsteps, who to this day is still unsigned, the cornerback has come into San Diego with resurgence and a body that shows how hard he has worked in the offseason.
With Jason Verrett earning a Pro Bowl spot after his second season, Brandon will be looked upon as a mentor for Verrett while he is learning to play the inside more.
Flowers is a defensive back and not just a corner. At his age, and his horrid season where he did not record one interception, it might be easy to imply that his tank is on empty, not being able to perform like he did in Kansas City and his first year in America’s Finest City. However, Brandon is a professional and entered spring in great shape, with a competitive spirit and a smile on his face.
If healthy, he will return this season and reestablish himself as the reliable corner who the organization can count on.
Jeremiah Attaochu – A decade ago, San Diego was enjoying the fact that they housed the an incredible pass-rushing tandem of Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips. With the 2016 season approaching, Chargers fans might once again be able to see two outside linebackers strike fear into opposing offenses.
Melvin Ingram has solidified his dominance and respect around the league and Jeremiah is catching up. Combined, Ingram and Attaochu accounted for a little more than half of the total sacks for the Bolts in 2015.
A vast improvement from his rookie season to last year’s crusade, Jerry needs to stay consistent all year if he is to improve on his six sacks. Utilizing his quickness and his ability to get in the backfield, there is no reason why his numbers will not again balloon in 2016.
One of the hardest and most diligent workers on the team, Jeremiah already showed improvements at spring practices. He might be underrated, and if teams will focus on Ingram, which they will, the second-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech will continue to disrupt the opposition with an even stronger force than teams have seen so far. Expect a sizeable jump in both sack numbers and tackles for loss this upcoming season, all the while creating a ferocious duo with teammate Ingram.
Comment below on which players you feel will exceed expectations.
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
If you were to look up the word “dreadful” in the dictionary, this is what you might find:
- causing or involving great suffering, fear, or unhappiness; extremely bad or serious.
“The San Diego Chargers’ running game has been dreadful over the past two years.”
In 2012, Philip Rivers was sacked 49 times, which was the 4th worst in the NFL. In that same year, the Bolts’ running backs combined for a dismal 3.6 yards per attempt — tied for 2nd worst — totaling 1,461 rushing yards and ranking them 27th out of 32 teams.
Change was needed to right the ship
Signing head coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt gave Charger faithful something to look forward to; because let’s be honest, it could not get any worse.
With “The Wiz” working on Philip’s quick release and utilizing a fullback to pave way for the running game, things turned around nicely for the team from America’s finest city.
In 2013, Rivers was sacked only 30 times — 4th best in the NFL — and the running game amassed 1,965 total yards (13th best) with an average of four yards per carry. The three-year playoff drought had ended as San Diego went to the AFC Divisional Game, losing to the eventual AFC Champion Denver Broncos.
After Whisenhunt left to become the head coach for the Tennessee Titans in 2014, Frank Reich was promoted to take over the reins and continue improving the offense. As the 2014-15 season began to sink deep down into an abyss filled with injuries and blame, it was not a shock to see the final results. San Diego totaled only 1,367 total rushing yards, averaging only 3.4 yards per attempt.
The one shining star to emerge out of the 2014 season was an undrafted free agent named Branden Oliver.
The diehard fans remember him well when in Week 5 he ran all over the then No. 1 ranked rush defense of the New York Jets. Getting his chance due to injuries, Bo ran with quickness, tenacity and a toughness that the Chargers’ backfield had not seen in some time.
With Danny Woodhead back from injury for the 2015 season and the Chargers’ first-round draft pick of Melvin Gordon, the optimism of the running game spilled out of the mouths of the devoted. And with the overwhelming hope of anew, the ship was back on track.
Or….so people thought.
Watching the worst rushing attack in the NFL for the 2015 season come out of San Diego seemed synonymous to Thomas Andrews being aboard his mighty Titanic as it sank to the bottom of the ocean.
There were no words.
An inexplicable disappointment, the 4-12 Chargers needed another change. With talks of moving the team out of San Diego, righting the ship was more important than ever.
“Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
- John F. Kennedy
With Whisnehunt back in charge of the offense, things again seem promising. He was the last to utilize a fullback when the Chargers had Le’Ron McClain. Now, added via the sixth round of this year’s NFL draft, fullback Derek Watt adorns the lightning bolt dome. The hiring of Jeff Davidson, whose resume is quite impressive, should spring some new life into the veteran offensive linemen on the roster.
It is unknown how Watt will be used or how well Coach Davidson will adjust going from the NFC to the AFC, but make no mistake about it, there is hope in the Chargers’ backfield. Gordon is out to prove his touchdown-less campaign was a fluke. Woodhead is out to prove he is always a legitimate threat on every down. Oliver, who has yet to fumble the ball in 191 carries, is out to prove that he can excel in any role.
On paper, the ship seems to have been righted in the proper direction.
And it’s destination……Houston?
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
- “The Italian Stallion” – Rocky Balboa
Make no mistake, Chargers fans, Philip Rivers has been hit hard and often during his career, especially during this highly disappointing year. Ranking fifth in sacks endured, it is amazing that Rivers also ranks first in completions and third in passing yards.
What is it that makes him continue to compete without batting an eyelash? What makes a man take that many hits only to be standing and fighting as the final bell rings?
For Rivers, it’s not about padding his stats or earning personal accolades. He is a fierce competitor, and all he wants to do is win. Period.
Life, as most of us know, is a competition. In every aspect of our lives, we are in fierce competition.
That job that you want? Someone wants it more. That girl you want to be with? There’s another man out there wanting her, doing everything to the above-and-beyond level to win her over.
In both of those examples, the “other” guy will do anything he can to stop you in order to become victorious. There is no throwing in the towel for those wanting to succeed, no matter the opponent or the size of the hill to climb.
Remember the first Kansas City game when the Bolts lost 33-3? Did you see Philip’s eyes and body language in the waning seconds of that game? You would have thought the Chargers were only down by three points.
What about the time he played through a torn ACL in the 2007 AFC Championship against New England? With a temperature of 23 degrees at kickoff, and LaDainian Tomlinson on the bench, Rivers played through an injury that could have ended his career.
Any fan of any team, regardless if they dislike Rivers or not, respects him and his playing ability. He is out there day in and day out trying to improve.
Rivers could have easily laid down this season when the Chargers were 2-8. With his age and his contract extension, the coaches could have pulled him during that six-game losing streak, improving his chances to remain healthy for the current season and the future. I imagine Mike McCoy did not even address this with Philip, but could you imagine what he would have said if he was asked to sit? I believe he would have said something like what Apollo Creed told Rocky when he wanted to fight Drago:
“We always have to be in the middle of the action ’cause we’re the warriors. And without some challenge, without some damn war to fight, then the warriors might as well be dead..”
Abilities are not rewarded due to their virtue. Whatever admiration society awards us comes from the selfish perspectives of others. Chargers fans want wins, division titles, conference titles and, eventually, Super Bowl titles. Of course, the stats look great and his name among the leaders in those categories will undoubtedly ignite their support for Philip and their beloved Bolts.
However, his general attitude, competitive spirit and passion for the game seems to, at times, be forgotten when postseason aspirations are nonexistent. For some fans, getting the hardware and the ring seems to outweigh the individual’s determination and competitive spirit.
Rivers has never denied the fact that he wears his emotions on his sleeves. He doesn’t care that a defensive end has two inches and 100 pounds on him, Philip will bark right back at them. He certainly does not care that tears and surreal emotions restrained him from calling a play during this past game against Miami. Our beloved captain didn’t shy away from welled-up eyes and choked-back words during every post-game interview he participated in.
When his friend and former center Nick Hardwick asked him what his thoughts were when the Malcom Floyd tribute was playing, Rivers vocal chords trembled.
“It’s the people during those times is what you go back to. It’s the people, it’s you (Nick Hardwick) and so many for the last 12 years that have been a part of what makes it what it is. So that’s what started flashing (in his mind).”
There are two types of leaders: the silent type and the vocal leader. The silent leader is able to lead his teammates through example; his work ethic and the way he conducts his business day in and day out. The other type of leader is an emotional/vocal one, where teammates feed off of the energy. Often referred to as the “cheerleader” of the team, this type of player gets their fellow teammates riled up through speeches, rants, crazy dances and loud cheers.
Philip Rivers is an anomaly – he is both types of leaders.
In the same interview with Hardwick, Philip explains what he said to his team before they took the field on Sunday.
“They’ve been playing football in this stadium before we were alive, but we get to finish it. We get to, potentially, play the last one. Let’s do it right. Let’s make those guys who watched for 55 years, or the guys that have played here 30 years ago, let’s make them go, ‘They made us proud and finished it the right way.’”
Philip loves San Diego. He loves the city and being the quarterback of the Chargers. He loves the fans who have supported him and the team since his arrival in 2004. The bottom line is that Rivers wants to win and will fight for all sixty minutes.
So for those of you who will ask, “Why is he still playing?”
It’s because he is Philip Rivers.
He is the Chargers’ quarterback.
He is San Diego.
And he doesn’t lay down or quit……..ever.
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
Scattered throughout social media concerning the 2-6 Chargers are endless rants about the offense. The porous and oft-injured line, the lack of a running game and the vanilla play calling takes center stage from the voices of the fans.
As true as these perspectives may be, there seems to be an obvious concern that not too many are jawing about. Simply put….
The Chargers cannot stop anybody.
Philip Rivers leads an offense ranked 8th in most points scored with 191. That averages out to 23.9 points per game. Furthermore, San Diego leads all NFL teams in total yards with 3,386 (423.3 per game).
Of course, there are many questions to be asked when comparing these stats with the overall record. Most fans have come up with their own solutions: Fire Frank Reich. Fire Mike McCoy.
I am not here to argue with any of you who voice this sentiment. I am, however, needing to point out a prominent dysfunction with San Diego’s defense.
Ranked 27th in points allowed (28.4 per game), the Chargers players are either ill-equipped to handle the task at hand, or their leader continually is over-matched and out-coached.
What is your opinion? Is it Pagano or the players?
Let us take a quick statistical snapshot.
According to pro-football-reference.com, since 2012, when John Pagano took the reins as the defensive coordinator, the defense has not ranked any higher than 11th. Pagano’s defense is currently ranked 27th, and it shows.
With the Bolts giving up five yards a carry to opposing running backs, they are tied for dead last in that category. The defense has given up 124.6 yards per game on the ground, moving them up to 27th overall.
Opponents thus far have completed 64.75% of their passes against the Chargers’ defense, ranking them 19th overall. Adding fuel to the fire, this same defense is giving up 12.1 yards per completion, ranking them 30th overall.
Needing to find a silver lining with all these statistical rankings, I was able to notice that Pagano’s defense currently ranks 10th overall in holding teams to a 35.96% third down conversion rate. The 2014 team, in comparison, allowed their opponent to convert 43% of third down attempts.
When the Chargers are behind, it is the offense that has to get them back into the game. They must overemphasize time of possession, moving the chains and putting points on the board. If San Diego is ahead in the game, it is up to the defense to secure the victory. With two squeezed-out wins thus far, it appears that the majority of the problem is on the defensive side of the ball. The offense, who definitely has their own issues, is still putting points on the board and moving the ball, despite their lack of a formidable running attack. Pagano and his defense just can’t stop their opponents.
This defensive unit has stars: Jason Verrett, Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, just to name a few. Injuries can certainly be relevant to their struggles, however it can no longer be the crutch that Pagano seems to use. His base scheme is a 3-4, but it is run more like a 4-3. He utilizes the talent he has and plugs them into different packages to offset what the offense does.
One of the main issues of the defensive unit is the fact that they give up far more “explosive” plays than they should. Big, game-changing plays have turned the momentum to the opposing team’s favor far too often, and multiple times within individual games. These plays have occurred due to a multitude of reasons: blown coverages, poor tackling, missed assignments and vanilla play calling. The team rushes four players or less an inexplicable amount of times, making it difficult to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
So, once again, I ask for your opinion…
Is it the players or is it the coach?
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott